Why Your Food Fads Make Me Angry

Tonight, as I was preparing dinner, I felt something that I haven’t felt in a long time. I even got a little angry about it — angry enough that I’m now about to write my first rant since July last year — and it’s about something as boring and asinine as what I am cooking for dinner.

Would you like fries with that?

I like to think that I do a pretty good job of feeding my family healthy, well balanced meals. At school I was taught the food pyramid, which basically boils down to, ‘eat more nutrient dense food like vegetables and fruits, eat less crap like hamburgers and cakes.‘ Seems pretty legit to me.

Anyhow, I was standing there in the kitchen, chopping up vegetables to put into my bolognaise sauce, thinking about that pyramid, when my mind wandered to a conversation I had with a friend recently.

She mentioned that, after a long hot summer’s day of playing in the pool with her young children, she went home via the Maccas drive through.

Immediately after her ‘confession’, she felt the need to justify her decision: “I know it’s a terrible thing, but it was a massive day and they did not nap at all. I knew that dinner time would be a nightmare so I took a short cut.”

Good on you! I would do the same. It’s not like you’re feeding them treat foods every single day.

But here’s the thing, I know she wasn’t saying this to me in particular — I’m a fan of takeout from way back — but her defence was so automated, like she had dealt with this terrible judgement before, and so she just instinctively added that part

Seriously, I don’t care at all if people feed their kids takeaway; I’ve done it before and I’ll no doubt do it again, but I understand that eating some foods at the top of the food pyramid every once and a while isn’t going to turn us into Velociraptors or whatever.

And then I got angry.

I got angry because I looked at the ingredients I had in front of me. Crushed garlic from a jar. Fresh capsicums, carrot, onion and mushroom from the supermarket. Beef mince that came from cows reared by my Father-in-law. Tinned tomatoes. Basil that my son is growing in the back garden. Organic dried pasta from a food giant. Red wine from a bottle my friend left behind forever ago. Pre-grated parmesan cheese.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with these ingredients, but it dawned on my that someone somewhere would find a fault with the meal.

The pasta, even though it is organic, isn’t gluten free.

The beef is not grass fed because I am not about to say no to free meat.

Ugh, tinned tomatoes and crushed garlic? Think of the icky preservatives!

OMG, YOU JUST FED YOUR CHILD FOOD WITH ALCOHOL IN IT?!

Hell, there’s probably someone out there who would condemn my meal because I used tap water to boil the bloody pasta, and don’t you KNOW that fluoride is the MIND CONTROL FOR THE MASSES?!

It was at that point that I decided to have a wine while I cooked dinner, because I was already probably breaking a billion paleo-whole30-glutenfree-cleaneating-holistichealth ‘rules’ that one more poor choice wasn’t going to hurt.

I see food, others see DEATH
I see food, others see DEATH IN A BOWL

 Shooting the Messenger

Now let me be perfectly clear here. I have absolutely no problem with any of the diets that I have mentioned. I know they work for people; I felt amazing when I did Michelle Bridges and that’s all about the clean eating.

However, what I do take issue with is people who pontificate so much about what they are putting in their mouths, that others have developed an automatic defensive reflex when it comes to something as simple as a treat dinner once in a blue moon.

That’s not cool.

Another good friend of mine recommended to me a blog that she thought I may be interested in. The blogger in question is an incredibly passionate food blogger who also happens to swear a lot. She thought that I would appreciate how much research that she puts into her pieces, and that she gets her information from reputable sources and isn’t afraid to tell the truth.

Then she started a campaign against the Heart Foundation.

I admire her passion, she genuinely believes that she is doing the right thing — and she makes some pretty compelling points — but here’s the thing, she is not a doctor or nutritionist.

In fact, I would say she is a pretty good example of everything that is wrong with the current food movement.

Every man and his dog — myself included! — can jump on a computer and type up a bunch of stuff. And that stuff may be absolutely right for one person, but it will not be for another.

Does this post take into account your family history? Your socio-economic status? Your current health and wellbeing?

No. No it doesn’t.

We are bloggers, not doctors, and sometimes we forget that people listen to us even if we are wrong.

calories-meme

Cutting through the white noise

I read a story recently about a woman from the UK who claims that she needs more welfare money in order to lose weight. She was quoted as saying:

‘It’s not easy being overweight and on benefits. If I was well off, I’d be able to buy fresh food and afford a gym membership.’

and

‘I tried swimming but it cost £22 a month and it meant I had to cut back on my favourite pizza and Chinese takeaways.’

I will be honest here and admit that at first I fell for this obvious click-bait piece. Seriously, how can anyone in their right mind think that buying takeout is cheaper than making actual food?!

But the more I thought about it, the more I became disappointed with the media.

You see, it is so easy to call this woman into question over her intelligence, but the Daily Mail had the potential here to bring light onto a pretty serious issue, one that I am sure the British Government would probably like to address, since they are not only footing her food bill, but the nation’s medical expenses as well.

Just where exactly are we meant to look these days to get good, solid advice on food and nutrition?

Doctors? Nutritionists? Bloggers?

If you believe some of the latter, the former two supposedly don’t have your best interests at heart.

How do we teach people what is right for them when they are just a Google search away from thinking that all their health woes are because of gluten or some government conspiracy to keep them fat and complacent?

I really wish I had the answers, but I guess that’s the nature of being a human in the internet age. There will always be people out there who feel that their way of doing things is superior and they will judge you if you don’t do it their way. There will be people who genuinely believe they are helping you. There will be people who want to mislead you so they can make money.

You know what, though? Stuff ’em. What is right for your family won’t necessarily be right for someone else, and that’s okay. You are doing the best you can to cut through the bullshit and provide for your family in the best way you can.

If your children have a warm meal on the table at the end of each night, and they are happy and healthy, then I think you are doing a wonderful job as a parent. In fact, you deserve a cookie. It doesn’t even need to be a whole-wheat, grass fed, chia seed tofu cookie, either, just whatever damn cookie you’d like to treat yourself with <3

yac

Do you find yourself defending your food choices? Share your stories in the comments below

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  • Troy Jennings

    Food is food. Also, a short way down, you’ve written “…there’s probably someone out there who would condone my meal because I used tap water to boil the bloody pasta”. I think you want condone => condemn.

    • D’oh! Thanks for the spot 🙂

      • Troy Jennings

        np.

        On-topic: People writing about things they know nothing about is a common issue in every field now. And it doesn’t matter. The relationship between health and food is not atomic. You can eat like shit and if you’re still using more energy than you consume, you won’t gain weight, and will avoid most other food-related health issues.

  • Ashley

    Well said!

  • Kay

    YES!!! Giving you a virtual hug right now haha! I always subscribe to the ‘everything in moderation’ rule. That includes my child. She occasionally gets McDonalds. I will have a Pepsi at the end of the day. When we bake, we use butter and sugar, not substitutes. And we are all perfectly healthy!! I think some of the food trends lately are completely out of control, most notably gluten-free eating. Obviously there are some people who legitimately can’t process gluten, and that causes problems. But I feel like it is being WAY overblown and over-prescribed as a treatment for things. But really, who knows, I’m not a doctor!! Which is why, on the whole, I just try and do what I feel right with. In season I grow my own veggies, we eat well balanced food daily, and we have occasional treats. Sounds good to me!

    • Right back at you! Exactly, we are not doctors, we’re just parents doing the best for our kids. And hey, they’re doing alright so it can’t be that terrible!

      Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • Mon

    I try to eat healthy, but there are so many things that do have stuff that is secretly put into them – don’t get me wrong, some of that is packaged which is already a no no to some people, but sometimes (especially living in a small town) it’s the only option you have. People judge way too damn quickly about everything. You’re on a diet – you should be on a lifestyle change. You exercise – you’re doing it wrong. Heck, it extends to more than food, no matter what we do there is ALWAYS someone wanting to judge. I mean even the vegies we get in the supermarket aren’t always the best and lets face it unless you want to buy organic, or can grow them yourself, you’re stuck with the vegetables that have been treated with pesticides. By the way, I love me some junk food (just telling myself not to eat any for a while to sort myself out!!) and you should be able to have it once in a while. Everything in moderation and look after yourself 😀

    • Exactly! You think you’re doing the right thing, but there’s always -someone- who knows better and just wants to rain on your parade with their morally superior food snobbery. Sigh.

      I fed my morning tea guests baked goods I bought from Woolies today. I hope they don’t die now.

  • When I was running a vegan bakery out of my apartment I had all sorts of people patting themselves on the back for buying my “healthy” baking. This always made me super uncomfortable because vegan does not automatically = healthy. I was not advertising myself as a “healthy, low calorie, diet” bakery. I made cupcakes. With sugar. And fat. And sugar. The only thing they didn’t have was cholesterol and we’ve finally admitted that even that’s not that big a deal. And don’t even get me started on the gluten free people. Gluten free also does not = healthy. It is for people that cannot digest gluten. Throw out the buzz words and stick to common sense, as outlined by Micheal Bittman: Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much. Done.

  • Syrco

    I don’t understand why people who don’t have celiac disease eat gluten free food. Gluten free products are way more expensive and they don’t contain vitamin B like normal products with gluten.
    I sometimes feel guilty if we buy take-out or chocolate and sweets because it has become so popular to eat super healthy, green, clean, high protein food. We buy take-out maybe once a month and buy some chocolate maybe once a week. For dinner we eat normal healthy food like some kind of meat with pasta, rice or potatoes and other vegetables. I wish we could afford to buy more organic food but they usually cost more and we don’t have a lot of money to spare.